Published on April 8th, 2014 | by Guest Contributor


Is eBilling a form of greenwashing?

paper billing

Paperless billing, or eBilling as it’s sometimes referred to, is often hailed by companies as a way they’re proving their commitment to the environment. One thing is absolutely for sure: it’s a way for companies to save money. But is it also really beneficial to the environment, or is it simply greenwashing?

For a little background, check out what happens to recycled paper after its first life (a commentary that comes from someone in the commercial printing industry, and perhaps a counterbalance to the argument that paper = bad). Michael Wright from paperless billing provider Striata has the following to say about the situation. Let us know what you think about the whole debate by posting in the comments below.

We all know eBilling is “green”. It’s so obvious that it is hardly worth mentioning. But, eBilling should never be attacked as ‘greenwashing’…

The issue that upsets some lobbyists (companies in forestry, pulp, paper, inks and chemicals, pre press, press, finishing, publishing and printing) is that banks, telcos and utilities are enjoying substantial cost reductions from moving to electronic billing and therefore can’t claim to be doing it for altruistic environmental reasons like saving the planet and lowering Co2 emissions.

And they are particularly upset because their bankrollers are seeing revenue decline as customers choose to “Go Green” by going paperless. It seems to be a fairly self serving argument – but I guess that’s their job.

It is interesting that they are not disputing that eBilling is more cost effective.

eBilling doesn’t pollute and its energy efficient – unlike paper

It may not seem that obvious to some people that an email is going to result in less pollutants than a piece of paper. They should consider the fact that there are no trees to cut down, no effluent waste water and no solid waste in the production of emails – just because trees are a renewable resource doesn’t mean that paper is a sustainable way to communicate.

Common sense would also dictate that power consumption is not a significant factor in comparing the “green” credentials of eBilling vs. paper & print as similar servers would be used in both processes. Except in the case of eBilling there are no massive printers to run and no network of delivery trucks to distribute the documents – eBilling uses a tiny piece of an existing network (the internet) and such a small proportion of the end users computer power as to be statistically negligible.

Paper is a messy business.

As for the verifiable research, you only have to visit to work out the environmental benefits of switching from paper to email.

Fact is, eBilling saves costs and the environment as it turns off paper. Market forces will dictate that businesses drive down costs and eBilling is a prime opportunity to do that.

Bills Photo from Shutterstock

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